Al Boum Photo and Cyrname share Anglo-Irish classification top honours
Al Boum Photo and Cyrname have been named the joint highest-rated jump horses from the 2019-20 season, rated 173 in the Anglo-Irish jump classifications revealed on Tuesday.
Overall, the top ratings for chasers and hurdlers is much lower than last year, blamed partly on a curtailed campaign – with Aintree and Punchestown cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic – and a shorter standard of quality performances noted by the handicappers.
The highest rating achieved by Al Boum Photo and Cyrname is the lowest since Many Clouds in 2016-17 while, for the first time since the classifications started in 2000, there is no hurdler rated higher than 165. Sharjah tops the rankings with a rating of 164.
Al Boum Photo and Cyrname's ratings have decreased from last season. The Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old, a back-to-back Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, is down from 175 to 173, having only raced twice last season.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname achieved his rating after breaking Altior's 19-race unbeaten record in the Christy 1965 Chase. Last year he was marked at 176 following his 17-length romp in last season's Ascot Chase but fell, when beaten, in the same race in February and was a distant second in the King George before that.
Santini, second to Al Boum Photo at Cheltenham, was rated 1lb off the top along with Chacun Pour Soi, crowned champion of the two-mile chasing division on the form of his Dublin Chase victory over Min. He missed the Queen Mother Champion Chase with an abscess.
Altior is dropped from 175 to 171, the same mark he shares with Betfair Chase winner Lostintranslation, Monalee and comfortable King George winner Clan Des Obeaux.
Kemboy, last season's top-rated chaser, has been dropped 7lb to a rating of 168 following his three defeats last season. Other names to note include Delta Work (170), Bristol De Mai (169) and Native River (166).
Although not included in the official ratings, a rating of 167 was confirmed for the French-trained Easysland following his emphatic Cross Country success by Martin Greenwood, the BHA's steeplechase team leader.
Elsewhere, Min, Defi Du Seuil and Champion Chase hero Politologue were rated 169.
Andrew Shaw, senior Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) National Hunt handicapper, said: “Despite winning his second Gold Cup, Al Boum Photo did not run up to his official mark of 175 and the fact that little more than seven lengths covered the first six home would indicate that this year’s race wasn’t the strongest running.
"However, this does not take anything away from what was a magnificent training performance by Willie Mullins. There is every chance that Al Boum Photo would have improved on this performance but for the abandonment of the spring festivals. His bid to emulate Best Mate’s three consecutive wins in the race will be eagerly awaited.
“Chacun Pour Soi topped the two mile chase division following his scintillating display in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown, accounting for the subsequent Ryanair Chase winner, Min (169). It was a shame that he did not get the opportunity to build on this performance, having been ruled out of the Champion Chase.
"However, there will be some fascinating clashes to look forward to in this division next season with the likes of Altior, Defi Du Seuil and Politologue sure to mount a claim to the throne.”
Greenwood added: “At 173 both Al Boum Photo and Cyrname have been awarded the highest ratings in the steeplechase division in the truncated 2019-20 National Hunt season, with Chacun Pour Soi only rated 1lb inferior.
“Al Boum Photo became the first horse to win back-to-back Gold Cups since Best Mate, while Cyrname topped the mid-distance section for the second year running after defeating the previous dual two-mile champion Altior [now 171] in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot.
"With Altior failing to be quite at his best, the champion of the short-distance category falls to Chacun Pour Soi, who was the champion novice at the same distance the previous season."
The last-gasp RSA Chase winner Champ was named the top novice chaser from the season, with a rating of 161. The Nicky Henderson-trained eight-year-old got up late to deny Minella Indo (160) and Allaho (159) in what was assessed as a decent running.
JLT Novices' Chase hero Samcro and Arkle second Fakir D'oudairies are rated 160, Melon 159 while Notebook and Faugheen are both marked as 158-rated horses.
Cheltenham Festival handicap winners Imperial Aura and Simply The Betts are deemed good enough for Graded level, with the assessors rating them 157.
“With no Aintree or Punchestown, all three at the top of the novice lists are rated below recent years," added Greenwood.
"Champ, in the staying division, marginally comes out on top overall on 161 on account of his win in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, where he came from a seemingly impossible position to grab the lead close home. This is the lowest rating in the staying novice rank since 2015-16.”
The ratings were revealed in a press conference on Tuesday, with Greenwood and Andrew Mealor assessing British runners, while Shaw and Shay Quinn rated the Irish contingent.
Handicappers' horses to follow for 2020-21
Minella Indo (Martin Greenwood)
The RSA is usually a strong race for future chasers. He tanked along up front with Allaho before Champ got to them. I think he's got a nice staying chase in him this season.
The Big Breakaway (Andrew Mealor)
He ran pretty well at Cheltenham and was the best of the British in the Ballymore. He stayed on stoutly as if a step up in trip is going to suit. He's open to loads more improvement and can win a good race over fences.
Saint Roi (Andrew Shaw)
I think he'll go right to the top, he looks a Grade 1 horse. He's going to improve a lot as the season goes on. He was really impressive in the County Hurdle, and looks a really smart horse.
Captain Guinness (Shay Quinn)
He was brought down at the second last in the Supreme Novices' but he still looked to be going well – and that was only his third start over hurdles. He's got the scope for improvement, he's rated 144 but he could be a bit better than that. If they send him chasing he could be an Arkle type.
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